To Miami and Beyond…February 25 – March 10th, and the official start of our “Loop” in Stuart, Florida!

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The Miami Skyline from Biscayne Bay

MIAMI, HERE WE COME! ¬†We left¬†Tarpon Basin¬†early, as we wanted to get to Miami, get¬†settled, and so some things on the boat (i.e. cleaning!). ¬†We had a beautiful crossing (again!) through¬†Card Sound and Biscayne Bay. We were treated to more playful dolphins in our wake and a surprise…a beautiful sea turtle. ¬†We weren’t sure what the spot in the water was (possible garbage…always an unfortunate reality) or…yes, it was a very large turtle! ¬†As we got closer, we recognized the shell, and then, his head popped out of the water, he looked right at us and then took a quick deep dive as we threw the engines into neutral to avoid hitting him. ¬†Amazing!!

After a nearly 50 mile run, we set anchor in the Marine Stadium Anchorage, just past noon.  We had lunch and did some cleaning and maintenance (super cleaning the bridge!!) on a beautiful 73 degree, calm day.  We were largely alone, with just a couple of other boats at anchor after the day trip and jet ski folks left for the day.  We later learned that the anchorage was closed due to the dismantling of the boat show (which was going own in full force), but no one chased us away.  Lucky us! A productive afternoon, a beautiful sunset, and the lights of the skyline! The Miami skyline is beautiful and colorful, and we loved every minute!

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Beautiful Miami Skyline from Marina Stadium Anchorage

On the way up the ICW, there are numerous bridges to go under and to open, which gets tedious. ¬†But, there’s lots to look at, as it’s a built up area of the city with parks and paths along the water and luxury galore!

Passing Miami enroute to Bill Bird Marina

Marinas in the¬†Miami¬†area are stupid expensive (think $450./night for our boat…when we bring our own bed, bath, kitchen, maid service…um, no!), so we ventured further north to¬†Bill Bird Marina, part of Haulover Park¬†in North Miami Beach, which was a lovely spot to spend few days.

We arrived at¬†Bill Bird¬†early, at 11 am. ¬†We were quickly helped on the dock by the lovely Lucy, a fellow Looper, who along with her wonderful husband Jeff, quickly became friends. ¬†We’re hoping to bump into them along our loop! ¬†We enjoyed “docktails” with them on board their beautiful boat Encantada, swapping travel stories, then dinner the next night at an amazing Cuban restaurant,¬†Little Havanna, and a dinghy jaunt to West Marine for the boys!

We loved it here.  The marina is basic, but updated, super clean and friendly, and right across the street from the beach and a short bike ride to Publix and CVS!

Bill Bird Marina, Haulover State Park, North Miami Beach

Delicious Cuban meal at Little Havanna with Lucy and Jeff

We’ve never been to¬†South Beach, Miami, and our dear friends Mike and Lori McKean were there visiting their daughter Rachel, who is graduating from University of Miami Medical School in May. ¬†They were in town to share her “Match Day”, when the graduates learn where they will be spending the next four years of their life for their residency. We hopped in an Uber, wandered a bit along the beach in¬†South Beach, then met Mike and Lori for lunch and further wandering.

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South Beach, Miami

A delicious Mexican lunch in South Beach with Mike and Lori

South Beach meanderings admiring the Art Deco architecture

Gianni Versace’s Mansion in South Beach, now The Villa Hotel

After strolling around¬†South Beach, we went back to Mike and Lori’s hotel and relaxed by the pool while we waited for Rachel to join us. ¬†From there, we went to the beautiful¬†Standard Hotel for Happy Hour and the sunset. ¬†It’s a place where Rachel and her fellow financially strapped med student friends would enjoy Happy Hour prices to feel “fancy”…and we did too! And, there was some pretty amazing people watching!

The anything but “Standard” Hotel, with it’s deck bar, gardens and nooks to relax

We had a great time catching up with Mike and Lori, friends since college (Mike was one of Rob’s roommates from college, and a groomsman in our wedding!), and their lovely daughter Rachel.

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Happy Hour at The Standard with Mike, Lori and Rachel

There’s a great walking/biking path along the beach throughout¬†Haulover State Park, and we enjoyed a long ride and the beach across the street.

Beach Kitties at Haulover State Park and sunset over the marina

We left Bill Bird Marina at 8:30 in the morning for the short run up to Fort Lauderdale (about 19 miles).  It was a beautiful, calm day, so we decided to run outside in the ocean, rather than dealing with the slow, bridge laden ICW.  We were thrilled that we did, as it was a spectacular day AND we saw another sea turtle!

Heading out into the ocean from Haulover inlet

There’s no mistaking¬†Fort Lauderdale, with it’s high rise buildings, tons of cruise ships (there were 7 in port when we passed!), and the beautiful homes along the ocean and canals.

Coming into Fort Lauderdale from the ocean

We stayed at¬†Bahia Mar, and loved it! ¬†The staff was great, as were the facilities, which is now part of a newly renovated Marriott. It’s right across the street from the beach, has a lovely pool and a great deli called¬†Market. ¬†The best part for Nancy, was that it was right next door to¬†The International Swimming Hall of Fame, where for $5.00 you can use their facilities! ¬†Boom! ¬†Swam slightly less than a mile and watched some amazing young kids in a diving competition. ūüŹä‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

The International Swimming Hall of Fame

Ft Lauderdale

Enjoying an evening aboard at Bahia Mar Marina

We rode our bikes along the beach and then into town, where there was an arts festival going on. ¬†We enjoyed our time in¬†Ft. Lauderdale, but it’s a scene…crowded and crazy!

Ft. Lauderdale along the beach, the canals, downtown and the arts festival

On our last night in¬†Ft. Lauderdale, we did a “dock crawl”, as there’s no better time of day to wander the docks and peak at the mega Yachts!

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Mega Yachts at Bahia Mar

Misty at night, Bahia Mar (the Swimming Hall of Fame in the background in the picture on the left)

Farewell, Bahia Mar

We left Ft. Lauderdale on March 4th heading north to Ft. Pierce.  On the way, we spent a peaceful night on the hook in North Lake Worth, relaxing and watching a spring break party at a beautiful house on shore!

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North Lake Worth anchorage

We had a beautiful morning to head towards Harbortown Marina in Ft. Pierce, where we were set to stay for a few days to have some work done on Misty.  But first, another quiet night on anchor in Palm Shores, just south of Harbortown.  

Scenes along the ICW

We’ve been on the water for 10 months, but haven’t officially started our Loop. ¬†When we get to Stuart, we will reach the official start for our Loop, as that’s where we will “cross our wake” (the term for your Loop completion) when we cross Lake Okeechobee to Stuart late next winter. ¬†So today, we are on our Loop!!

Stuart, Florida, where our Loop officially begins!

As we headed north on the ICW (here the Indian River), we passed Rob’s cousin Mary and her husband Fred’s condo…where we spent two weeks while waiting for¬†Misty repairs.

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Jensen Beach from the Indian River, Mary and Fred’s condo the one on the far left

Speaking of Mary and Fred, we were thrilled to learn they were down in Florida for vacation, and we enjoyed a seafood dinner at¬†Chuck’s¬†on the¬†Ft. Pierce Inlet. ¬†It was, as always, wonderful to spend time with them!

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So now it’s official! ¬†We’re on the “Loop”. ¬†While we have traveled nearly 4,000 miles on our Misty¬†travels, our “Loop” (which can be 6,000 miles, give or take, depending on side trips) has only just begun! ¬†HERE WE GO!!!!

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